the play for this program, six characters in search of an author by luigi pirandello. special guest, mr. ossie davis. now, your host, mr. jose ferrer. in as you like it, shakespeare observed this wide and universal theater presents more woeful pageants than the scene wherein we play in. "all the world is a stage "and all the men and women merely players. "they have their exits and their entrances and one man in his time plays many parts." always, there has been a certain fascination in relating the real world with the theatrical world in defining life in terms of art or art in terms of life. the creation of the playwright's world
begins with an empty stage. this stage represents the artist's blank canvas, the musician's instrument before a single note is played. it was the bare stage that caught pirandello's imagination and became the catalyst for six characters in search of an author. he himself wrote that he wanted an audience to feel they had just happened to enter an auditorium and stumbled on to a rehearsal. they see unplanned events take place and develop accidentally into a play performance. at this given time in this given space, identities, actions, meanings evolve between the characters and the actors, between the real and the imaginary, between life and art. and therein lay the challenge for pirandello, for all playwrights who seek to create a specific atmosphere in which an audience participates in the illusion of reality. our guest is both a playwright and performer,
who, through his work, has created magical moments of artistic reality, mr. ossie davis. only if the characters about which he's trying to write are willing, even anxious, to reveal themselves to the playwright can he then, out of his imagination, create the illusion of life upon the stage for writing is always a struggle between a man and his subconscious imagination. and though the playwright might start out feeling like he is god, able arbitrarily to move his characters about upon the stage like puppets on a string or pieces upon a chess board, it is only if those characters finally stand up on their hind legs and rebel and insist to him on speaking out of their own mouths, out of their own guts and out of their own passion can he then fashion what will be real and true upon the stage. for example, when i set out to write purlie victorious,
i set out to do a piece about a small black boy who was violently abused by a mean, old white sheriff in a southern town. but when i insisted on the characters, you know, acting out their piece and doing what i wanted them to do, they rebelled. they said, "no," and finally insisted on telling me what the truth of their life was like. and then i rebelled, because i felt that what was coming out of my imagination was a blackface minstrel show. it is only when i learned to trust the characters, and let them speak for themselves that finally, uncle tom became gitlow judson and aunt missy became-- who was aunt jemima and topsy became lutiebelle gussie mae jenkins. and i learned something in the process, that it is only if you allow the characters the freedom to create themselves, if you trust them, if you invite them, if you indeed allow them to take over your own imagination can you then hope to create life upon the stage.
many theatergoers find it an intriguing experience to peek behind the scenes. perhaps it is more than curiosity. perhaps it is a secret longing to participate in the powerful atmosphere of the theater. and yet, this closer inspection of a stage can lead to disenchantment. the scenery loses its magic and is seen as painted canvas stretched on a frame, latched to other frames. the actors without makeup or costume appear ordinary. the pretense is gone. make believe no longer exists. nowhere is this situation more readily apparent than behind the scenes of the salzburg marionette theater. the scenery is built from wood and wire. the puppets are only dolls manipulated through their wires or strings from above by a puppeteer. yet, untold fascination lies
in watching a marionette come to life through the movement of its body. the puppeteer breathes life into the marionettes, transfers personality and dramatic expression from his hands into the strings. the marionette lives, the fusion of fantasy and reality. for many years, mozart's the magic flute has been an important part of the repertoire of the aicor family's marionette theater. through their skill, the fanciful tale becomes a reality. creatures from the recesses of an imaginary world become characters of genuine existence. the popular folk theater character papageno, bird hunter, with his suit of feathers, woos papagena and merrily leads audiences into the magic of illusion. [music]
theater always has functioned at its best when it has most fully accepted the theater condition which allows the imagination to be transported beyond surface reality, which is after all, only one style of the theater. come on. let's get started. one way of understanding the dynamics of theater art is in terms of convention and style. conventions are the results of earlier innovations of creative artists which become familiar to and therefore accepted by audiences. gathered together, conventions establish a style. while many sources can influence the creative artist to change to violate a convention or a set of conventions, audiences rarely seek such change. theatrical change is normally the result of a creative artist's new perception of the theater
or of the world. in this way, the theater artist creates a new style, and we can understand the dynamic nature of theater as a struggle between new style and old convention. luigi pirandello was a creative artist who expanded the vision of possibilities in the theater, comparing the mystery of artistic creation with that of human birth. pirandello wrote that an artist imbibes many germs of life, and can never say how and why at a certain moment one of these vital germs inserts itself into his fantasy, there to become a living creature on a plain of life superior to the changeable existence of every day. about his play, six characters in search of an author, pirandello stated he uncovered these six as creatures in his spirit, living a life of their own
which he could not deny. he wrote, "born alive, they wished to live." pirandello calls six characters into levels of reality through his creative artistry. but we discover these characters have been left suspended and unresolved because the playwright left his work unfinished. the action of the play then centers on the efforts of the characters to persuade a theater producer to give them the opportunity to complete their identities, their drama, their unfinished world. go away. yes. come on, get out. this production condenses the opening scene in which we meet the actors and characters then concentrates on the middle portion of the play which develops the first crisis when actors attempt
to imitate the reality lived by the self called characters. the fun and interest of the production lie in the interplay between the director and his actors on the one hand and the six characters on the other. we are invited backstage to witness humor and passion at work on a creative background. [music] - good morning. - good morning. good morning, girls. come on. let's get started.
everyone here? not everyone. the leading lady isn't here. as usual. we're 10 minutes late already. hello. here i am. here i am. forgive me. i hunted everywhere for a taxi. take, delilah, darling. don't put her in a-- now, come on. let's get on with it. opening positions, please. you're in the way. forgive me for existing. when the curtain rises, leo gala, wearing a cook's hat and apron, is busy beating an egg in a basin with a wooden spoon. now, do i really have to wear a cook's hat? yes, my dear fellow. a cook's hat and you beat eggs. and if that's not enough, you have to represent the shells of the eggs that you're beating. [laughter] do you understand now? no. neither do i. however, let's get on with it. mm? oh, yes. i suggest you turn towards camera a bit,
about a three-quarter face. otherwise, what with the abstruseness of the dialogue, and no one being able to hear you-- are you listening to me? listen when i'm explaining a thing. there are some people here, governor, who would like a word with you. who are you and what do you want? you know perfectly well no one's allowed in here during rehearsal. we are here in search of an author. what? in search of an author? which author? any author, sir. there's no author here. we're not rehearsing a new play. so much the better, sir. we will be your new play. are you people trying to be funny? on the contrary, we are bringing you a terrible and grievous drama. and we might make your fortunes for you. a terrible and grievous drama,
as you can deduce for yourselves from this woman dressed in black. clear out. get them out of here. - go away. - yes. come on, get out. is this a practical joke? i wonder at your incredulity. is it perhaps that you're not accustomed to seeing the characters created by an author leaping to life upon the stage here? or is it that perhaps you have no scripts in your hands that contain us? yes, that's it. exactly, where is the script? listen. listen. the play is in the making. it is in us, sir, the script. the drama is in us.
my passion. if only you knew my passion for him. you, be quiet and keep out of this, and please don't laugh like that. bravo. bravo. shut up. what do you all think this is? a cabaret? let's put this drama on at once. at once. oh, how i long for that moment to come, because after all, the very intimate things that have happened between him and me, i can no longer remain with these people, having to witness my mother's anguish over that queer fish there. look at him. look at him! the legitimate son. he despises me. he despises him. he despises that dear little creature because we're bastards. don't you understand? because we're bastards. and this poor woman here, the mother of us all,
he looks down on her as if she were only the mother of us three bastards. oh, please. in the name of these two little children, i beg up. oh, my god. she's gonna faint. quick, a chair! a chair for this poor widow. stand back now. give her some air. look at her. look at her! no. stop it please. let them see you. no, i beg of you. don't let this man carry out his plan. you must prevent it. it's horrible. is this lady your wife? yes, sir, my wife. then how does it come about that she's a widow if you're still alive? she had another man. it is in this fact that her drama lies, another man. who has the good luck to be dead. we are still in mourning for him. her drama doesn't lie in the love of two men. she is not a woman.
she is a mother, and her drama and how powerful it is-- her drama lies entirely in these four children, the children of the two men she had. my god, what a show. and we're the audience for once. are you enjoying it, dear? let's listen to them, hmm? mm? let's hear what they've got to say. yes. yes, listen to the chunk of philosophy you're going to get now. my drama lies entirely in this one thing, in my being conscious that each one of us believes himself to be a single person. but that is not true because each one of us is many persons according to all the possibilities of being that there are within us. and we see this very clearly.
when, by some tragic chance, we are, as it were, caught up in the middle of what we're doing and find ourselves suspended in midair. this girl surprised me somewhere where i should not have been and doing something that i should not have been doing with her. she is surprised an aspect of me that should never have existed for her. and now she is trying to attach to me a reality such as i could not have expected i would have to assume, the reality that lies in one fleeting, shameful moment of my life. then there is the position of the others. his. leave me alone. i've got nothing to do with all this. what do you mean you've got nothing to do with all this? i've got nothing to do with it. i wasn't meant to be mixed up in all this
with the rest of you. common, that's what we are. and he's a fine gentleman. but as you may have noticed every now and then, i fix him with a contemptuous look and he lowers his eyes because he knows very well the harm he's done me. - i? - yes, you. you! it's all your fault i became a prostitute. well, sir, you understand? born as we are for the stage. are you amateur actors? no. i say we're born for the stage because-- you're an old hand at this game. oh, no. i only act as much as anyone acts a part he has set himself to perform or a part that he has set in life. and in me, it is passion itself. as you can see, it always becomes a little theatrical of its own accord. yes. yes. but you do understand without an author-- no. look here. you be the author.
me? what the devil are you talking about? yes, you. you. why not? 'cause i have never written anything in my life, that's why not. then why not try your hand at it now? there's nothing in it. everybody is doing it. and your job is made all the easier for you because all the characters are here before you. that's not enough. not enough? when you see us live our drama-- we still need someone to write the play. no. someone to take it down, possibly, while we act it out. you almost succeeded in tempting me. we could certainly have a shot at it. of course. and you will see what wonderful scenes will emerge. you tempt me. you tempt me. let's have a go at it, huh? come with me into my office. oh, you can have a few minutes break. come back in a quarter of an hour. they better come as well, don't you think?
yes, bring them along. now remember, don't be late. you've got a quarter of an hour. is he serious? what's he gonna do? oh, this is utter madness. does he expect to knock up a play in five minutes? yes, like the actors in the old comedia dell'arte. what if he thinks i'm gonna have anything to do with fun and games of that sort-- i should like to know who these people are. and who do you think they're likely to be? they're probably escaped lunatics or crooks. but does he really take what they say seriously? vanity, that's what it is. the vanity of appearing as an author. it's absolutely unheard of. if the professions come to this-- well, i'm rather enjoying it. how are you, my dear? let me tell you something. well, after all, i suppose we shan't have the pleasure of seeing what comes of it all.
now come along, ladies and gentlemen. are we all here? yes, sir. let me have your attention, please. now, let's make a start. set the stage for the parlor scene. a couple of flats in the door should do as quickly as you can. will you please look and see if you've got some sort of sofa or divan? is that the green one, sir? no. no, green won't do it. it was yellow. yellow flowered plush. and a huge thing it was, most comfortable. we haven't got anything like that. doesn't matter. give me what you've got. what do you mean it doesn't matter?
--famous sofa. we only want it for a run-through. please, don't interfere. and a little table, the little mahogany table for the pale blue envelope. well, how about that little gold painted one, sir? yeah. that'll do fine. and a long mirror, and a screen. i must have a screen, else how can i manage? oh, and some clothes hangers and so forth, hmm? oh, yes please, lots. see how many we've got, and ask someone to bring them out. and you ask why. oh sid, give us a hand with these things, would you? hmm? that's an outline of the thing-- you see, it's act one and act two. but you really have to excel yourselves. you mean, take it down in shorthand? oh, good idea. can you do shorthand? i may not know much about my job, but shorthand. better and better. go into my office and get some paper, a large quantity, as much as you can find. there, well, clear the stage, please. right now, ladies and gentlemen, let me have your attention, please. excuse me.
darling, if you're going to start-- there won't be any improvising to do, i promise you. what shall we have to do then? nothing for the moment, if you stay there and watch will happens. just now, we're going to have a rehearsal, or as much one as we can in the circumstances, and they'll be doing the rehearsing. - excuse me. - mm-hmm? in what way will it be a rehearsal? well, a rehearsal. a rehearsal for their benefit. but if we are the characters... just so, the characters-- it's not characters who act here. it's actors who do the acting here. the characters remain where they are in the script, when there is a script. precisely. and as there is no script, and you have a good fortune to have all the characters here alive before your very eyes... this is wonderful. so you want to do everything on your own, do you? act, huh? present yourself to the public? yes, just as we are. then let me tell you, you'd make a wonderful sight. and what you should we be then? you're not gonna pretend you can act, are you?
-- they're laughing already at the very idea. but to the point, i must tell you what your parts. that's not so very difficult, they're practically cast themselves. you, the mother. oh, i have to find a name for her. amalia. but that's your wife's name. you can hardly call her by her real name. why not when that's her name? but i see her as amalia. but you do what you like. i don't know what to say to you. i'm already beginning to-- i don't know how to express it-- to hear my own words ringing forth as if it was another sound from the one that i meant to give them. and don't you worry about that. don't you worry about that at all. we'll think about how to get the right turn of voice. and, as for the name, if it's amalia you want, then amalia it shall be, or i'll find another name.
just for the moment, we'll refer to the characters in this way. oh, you're the son. you'll play the step-daughter, of course. what? what did you say, that woman there, me? and what you are laughing at? nobody has ever dared to laugh at me before. either you treat me with respect or i'm walking out. well, forgive me. i wasn't laughing at you. you should feel yourself honored to be played by... that woman there. but my remark wasn't meant as a criticism of you. i was thinking about myself. because you see, i can't see myself in you at all. i don't know how to. you're not a bit like me. exactly, that is the point that i wanted to make. look, all that we express... what do you mean, all that you express? do you think this whatever it is that you express is something you've got inside you? not a bit of it. why not?
aren't even the things we express our own? of course, they aren't. the things that you express become material here for the actors, who give it body and form and voice and gesture. and let me tell you, my actors have given expression to much loftier material than this. this stuff of yours is so trivial that it comes off on the stage at all, the credit will all be entirely due to my actors. thank you, darling. i don't dare to contradict you, but please believe me when i tell you that we who have these bodies, these features who are as you see us now, we are suffering horribly. the make-up will remedy that, at least as far as your faces are concerned. perhaps, but what about our voices? - what about our gestures? - now, look here. you as yourself just cannot exist here. here is an actor who'll play you. and let that be an end to all this arguing. i understand. and now, i think i see why our author didn't wish to put us on the stage after all.
he saw us as we are, alive. he saw us as living beings. i don't want to offend your actors, heaven forbid that i should. but i think that seeing myself played by someone i don't know who. by me, if you have no objection. i am deeply honored, sir. but i think that however much of his art this gentleman puts into absorbing me into himself, however much he wills it... go on. go on. well, i should say, that the performance he will give, even if he makes himself up to look as much like me as he can, i should say that with his figure-- [laughter] sshh. --it will be difficult for him to give a performance of me, of me as i really am. it will be how he interprets what i am as he sees me.
if he sees me of anything at all and not as i deep down within myself, feel myself to be. and it certainly seems to me, that whoever is called upon to criticize us will have to take this into account. oh, so you're already thinking about what the critiques will say, are you? and here am i still trying to get the play straight. the critics can say what they like. we'd be much better employed in getting the play the on... here, here. ...if we can. now, let's make a start. is everything ready? you think the set looks all right? to be perfectly honest with you, i just don't recognize it at all. oh, good lord. you surely didn't hope we were going to reconstruct the whole of the room behind madame pace' shop here, did you? but did tell they had flowered wallpaper didn't you? yes, white. well, it isn't white, and it's got stripes on it,
but it'll have to do. as for the furniture, i think we've got pretty well everything we want. oh, would you go and get me an envelope, a pale blue one, if possible, and give it to that gentleman there. the kind you put letters into it? yes, the kind you put letters in? all right. now, come on, first scene, young lady. no, no, wait a minute. i said the young lady. you stay there and watch. how i make it live. well, i know how to make it live, don't you worry, once i get started. now, please, please. don't let's have any arguing, please. the first scene is between the young lady and madame pace. oh, what about this madame pace? she's not with us, sir. then what do we do about her?
but she's alive. she's alive too. yes, yes. but where is she? i wonder, would you allow me to have a word with your people? i wonder if you ladies would do me the kindness of lending me your hats for a moment. what did he say? --our hats? what are you going to do with the women's hats? nothing. just hang them on those pegs for a moment. and perhaps one of you ladies would be kind enough to take off your coat too. - our coats as well. - and after that? he's just mad as a hatter. but why? i just want to hang them up, just for a moment. please do me this favor, will you? this is really funny. you want us to put them on the show? precisely. put them on the show, like this.
yes, what we're allowed to know what you're doing? well, yes. if we set the stage better, who knows whether she may not be attracted to the objects of her trade and perhaps up here among us? look. look. here she is. here she is. it's madame pace. what did i tell you? here she is. what sort of a game do you call this? --what's going on? they've been holding her in reserve. one moment please. why should you want to destroy this prodigy of reality, which was born, which was evoked, attracted and formed by the scene itself, a reality that had far more right to live than you have,